Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins – Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins (Moonlight Productions)Sunday, 5th October 2014
Never ones for quick album turnarounds, Symphony X’s reduced output over the years has allowed for its members to pursue other projects, most notably Russell Allen’s work in Adrenaline Mob, and the 500 guest spots bass player Mike LePond chooses to partake in. Of course, there’s a valid reason for LePond doing all of this work – he’s one of the better bass players in the American progressive metal scene, therefore, his eponymous solo debut under the “Silent Assassins” moniker proves its mettle (or “metal”) by not doing a Symphony X double-take. The thing is a surprisingly heavy stab of Euro-influenced power metal, actually.
Scoring awesome vocal dude Alan Tecchio (Hades, Non-Fiction, Watchtower, etc.) was probably the best thing LePond could have done for his band. While the adjacent slots filled by Symphony X mainman Michael Romeo on guitars, keys, and drums, and Halford axe-slinger “Metal” Mike Chlasciak were nice scores, it is Tecchio’s heaving delivery that pushes a lot of tunes ahead. Case in point, the man’s ace melodic phrasing on “The Quest,” or his dynamic shots found on “Silent Assassins” and the closing 11-minute “Oath of Honor.” Tecchio, almost like LePond, sometimes gets overlooked in the grand scheme of things in American metal, but here, he’s properly utilized.
By hovering around the tried-and-true angle of European metal with Judas Priest influences, LePond and crew have creates a steely, unflinching body of work. And because it’s not the progressive/epic metal workout that most would normally expect, LePond may surprise some folks who are acclimated his main, quasi-productive band.